Lockheed Martin has released a new video of its testing its ATHENA laser weapon defence system. According to commentators, laser cannons were earlier the stuff of science fiction movies like 'Star Wars' but are now set to become part of real-life too.
Lockheed Martin has been developing the system for several years, and in 2015 photographs that showed how it could effectively melt the engine out of a car were seen in the media.
But the company now seems to have turned its attention to the skies, with what looks to be a finished prototype.
The video shows the weapon shoot not one, but five UAVs out of the sky with a precision shot.
The system does not cause an explosion in the aircraft, rather it locks onto a vulnerable part of the aircraft and then cuts through the material until the aircraft can no longer sustain powered flight.
''The tests at White Sands against aerial targets validated our lethality models and replicated the results we've seen against static targets at our own test range,'' said Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin's chief technology officer. ''As we mature the technology behind laser weapon systems, we're making the entire system more effective and moving closer to a laser weapon that will provide greater protection to our warfighters by taking on more sophisticated threats from a longer range.''
ATHENA, powered by a Rolls-Royce turbo generator, is a transportable, ground-based system that serves as a low-cost test bed for demonstrating laser-weapon systems. Lockheed Martin's laser is called ALADIN (Accelerated Laser Demonstration Initiative) known for ''speed, flexibility, precision and low cost per engagement.''
The most recent test will be followed by further demonstrations to determine the best defensive strategies for defeating hostile, weaponised drones and securing military bases, infrastructure facilities or sensitive defence installations during peace and war time.